Augusta Emma Stetson’s Retrograde

by MJSmith

Augusta Emma Stetson – was she guilty or misjudged by Boston?

     Augusta Emma Stetson was one of Mary Baker Eddy’s students.  She was a very successful practitioner and she built and was head of the First (Branch) Church of Christ Scientist in New York City.  Her story is a peculiar one, one that most Christian Scientists have a hard time reckoning themselves with, or have a hard time coming to terms with.  I feel that this is because they simply feel that they must take a side on the issue, and who was telling the truth?  Do any of us really know without seeing the actual “trial” records?  Do any of us know simply by reading Augusta Stetson’s books?  Can we really tell who was speaking the Truth or even the truth?  My purpose in writing this article is to try and make some sense for my own self upon this topic.  I can only present the facts and hope that they speak for themselves.
     In the biography Mary Baker Eddy, author Gillian Gill paints Augusta Stetson as a horrible person, as a disloyal Christian Scientist, and as an unpatriotic American!  I know that her portrayal of Stetson is pure bunk, perhaps it is not Gillian Gill’s fault; perhaps she is just gullible.  And most certainly, Gillian Gill does not understand Christian Science, therefore, she cannot understand Mary Baker Eddy, little loan does she understand the operation of animal magnetism (or perhaps she does understand the operation of animal magnetism and utilizes it in her book?).  What ever her reason for black balling Augusta Stetson I cannot say.  I do think that she was probably hoodwinked.  Recently, however, I have come to think that perhaps there was another reason why she took the side of the Board of Directors on this subject.  Because Gillian Gill does not understand Christian Science, if she did read the trial transcripts (I do not know that she ever did) she would not have known if the Board’s viewpoint or Augusta Stetson’s viewpoint on Christian Science treatment was correct or incorrect!  Gillian Gill’s biography leaves much to be desired, I see her book as being more harmful toward Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy than helpful, however, the Boston Hierarchy promotes Ms Gill’s book.  I believe they promote her book intentionally because the book is a very harmful book as it attacks Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy, whether the Field of Christian Scientists want to admit it or not (or perhaps they are just asleep?).  And before you Christian Scientists begin to argue with me you must honestly ask yourself this question, “Why does Gill fail to mention any healings that Mary Baker Eddy performed (except to show the ingratitude of the patients or the possibility of relapse), and why does she deny that Mary Baker Eddy healed people (except for Mr. Eddy, who she said had a relapse, or was never really healed, instead of accepting that Mr. Eddy was mentally assassinated [because Gill does not understand this concept, or she does but does not want to admit that there are people who perform deeds of mental malpractice])?”[1]
     But, to get back to my main topic, which is to help clear up the what was behind Augusta’s seeming excommunication from The First Church of Christ Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.  The truth is that the Board of Directors dropped her name from the membership rolls of the material organized church.    Although she was exonerated Augusta Stetson voluntarily resigned from membership in First Church of Christ, Scientist, New York City, and in compliance with her Leader’s request, she began to build “on a wholly spiritual foundation,” namely, “Spirit is infinite; therefore Spirit is all.  ‘There is no matter.'” (Miscellany, p. 357.)
     Some might say, that Augusta’s main problem is the fact that she appeared as if she idolized Mary Baker Eddy’s persona.  She certainly did not worry about the expense of some of the gifts that she gave to her beloved Leader!  And she was always capable of making her demonstration when the call came to donate money when asked for it by her Leader.[2]  There were  probably instances when Augusta Stetson may have been handled by animal magnetism and done the wrong thing, but most of the pioneer pupils were guilty of being handled upon occasion.  Was Mary Baker Eddy going to allow her most loyal student to be raked over the coals by her Boston Board of Directors (at the time there were five of them) if Augusta was innocent?  Surely, the Field believes that Mary Baker Eddy would stand up and protect such a loyal student, so Augusta must have been guilty of all charges!  Right?
     Let me be honest here, I am not crossing the line when I say that the Board of Directors were honestly afraid that Augusta Stetson would wind up being Mary Baker Eddy’s successor, and this, they felt, must be stopped at all costs.
     One example of this fear is when Mary Baker Eddy’s coffin was placed at the cemetery until her tomb could be finished.  The Board of Directors had a direct phone line from the cemetery to them and a guard giving the coffin a twenty-four hour watch!  If you do not believe me look at the footnotes of Robert Peel’s third biography on Mary Baker Eddy.
     Why would the Board of Directors have a hot line coming from the cemetery?  It was because they were afraid that a student of Christian Science (most likely Augusta Stetson and her loyal students) would steal Mary Baker Eddy’s body and claim that she had resurrected![3]  Does this remind you just a little bit like what happened when Jesus was laid in the tomb?  Who was it that was afraid the disciples would steal Jesus’ body?  Why, it was the male Church heads!  And they asked Pilot to place Roman soldier guards at the tomb’s entrance.  History repeats.
     So, yes, the male men, some of who were scheming to take over the Branch churches with an illegal 89th edition of the Church Manual as soon as Mary Baker Eddy passed on, were afraid of Augusta Stetson’s power and prestige.  And so it was in 1909 that they began their smear campaign and attack upon Augusta Emma Stetson.
     Some of this history is recorded in Hugh A. Studdert Kennedy’s book MRS. EDDY.  On pages 476 and 477 he writes:  “…rumors began to be heard in Boston [in the summer of 1908] that Mrs. Stetson was seeking to elevate her church in New York to a position similar to The Mother Church in Boston, and to establish branches throughout the city.  A few months later, such a scheme was discussed in the New York American, and it was said that subscriptions were already coming in to carry through the project.
     “The announcement appeared in the New York American on November 30, and in the issue of the Sentinel five days later, instead of a simple statement as to the falsity of the report, appeared a vigorous editorial setting forth the unsound nature of the whole proceeding and restating the fundamental organization of the movement wherein there was one Mother Church and its branches.  Mrs. Stetson met the situation by a statement through the New York Times in its issue of December 7, in which she declared that there had never been any thought in her mind of establishing a branch church of the First Church of New York, but that, on the contrary, the new church would be styled Seventh Church, and its only connection with First Church was that the funds for the new building would be supplied by First Church.
     “The situation was continuing to get more and more out of hand.  With the principal actors coming out from behind the scenes to take up their battle positions on the open stage, what appeared to be a grave schism was developing within the Church.  To a public conditioned to think of the Christian Science movement as an organization, Mrs. Stetson’s blatant independence was a challenge to the constituted authority that was Boston and, indeed, a threat to the very integrity of the cause itself.  Whatever the merits of Mrs. Stetson’s stand and whatever her personal deserts, Mrs. Eddy could not deny that she was a dangerously disturbing element and she must have recognized that she was the only one at this time with great enough influence to cope with such a contingency.  But to the venerated warrior at chestnut Hill, any direct action  must have promised a veritable Armageddon.  Perhaps some sort of strategy could forestall a ruinous battle.”
     Let me stop here for now and explain what was going on.  Augusta Stetson and her Church were being overfilled with people during services.  She felt that there was a need for a new branch church to be built to help provide services for the overflow of people.  Her mistake was in taking it upon herself and not leaving it to the folk in her Church to demonstrate this building of another branch.  And in her visit with Mary Baker Eddy that followed her article in the New York Times this is part of what was discussed during her carriage ride with Mary Baker Eddy.  The article in the New York American was erroneous in its facts and the Sentinel ran with the false story instead of defending one of their own members!  Do you wonder why?  I know I do.
     The author writes, “Mrs. Stetson’s blatant independence was a challenge to the constituted authority that was Boston and, indeed, a threat to the very integrity of the cause itself.”  To me it sounds as if Studdert Kennedy feels that the Board of Dirctors feared Augusta Stetson because she stood up to them, she was not their doormat.  Unlike, in later years, Bliss Knapp who constantly allowed the Board of Directors to roll over him.  Nor did he fight for his rights as a Christian Scientist and an American citizen.  He had the freedom of the press to back up the publication of his book The Destiny of The Mother Church but he caved in to the Boston’s hierarchy.
     “Whatever the merits of Mrs. Stetson’s stand and whatever her personal deserts [I am not sure that he does not mean desserts here.], Mrs. Eddy could not deny that she was a dangerously disturbing element and she must have recognized that she was the only one at this time with great enough influence to cope with such a contingency.  But to the venerated warrior at chestnut Hill, any direct action  must have promised a veritable Armageddon.  Perhaps some sort of strategy could forestall a ruinous battle.”  This, of course, is Studdert Kennedy’s opinion.
     I am not saying that Augusta Stetson was innocent of all charges made against her in 1909, nor am I saying that she was guilty, that is not the point of this paper.  I am here to explain what may have really happened with regards to Mary Baker Eddy’s position and why she allowed things to take the course of events that they took.  If we take a look at the following excerpt from SERMONS Which Spiritually Interpret the Scriptures AND OTHER WRITINGS on Christian Science, by Augusta E. Stetson, C.S.D., (page lvii-lviii) we begin to get a clearer picture of what was going on with Mary Baker Eddy.

     This Volume I dedicate to my faithful students in Christian Science, throughout the world, who are beginning to build, and also to my advanced students, who are intelligently the successfully building “on a wholly spiritual foundation,” the “structure of Truth and Love.”
     When the hour of emergence from material organization-the church militant-arrived, our great leader, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote a letter, from which I quote the following excerpt:

          When my dear brethren in New York desire to build higher,-to enlarge their phylacteries and demonstrate Christian Science to a higher extent,-they must begin on a wholly spiritual foundation, than which there is no other….
          Spirit is infinite; therefore spirit is all.  “There is no matter” is not only the axiom of true Christian Science, but it is the only basis upon which the Science can be demonstrated. (Miscellany, p. 357.)

     Realizing that Mrs. Eddy’s request must meet with a response from some of her students in New York, I decided to attempt the demonstration of Christian Science to “a higher extent…on a wholly spiritual foundation” and with my trustees, who had officiated for many years, and who, with me and my other students, had built our church edifice and presented it as a tribute to Mrs. Eddy, I replied to her call, hoping and praying that we might prove equal to her demand for the teaching and demonstration of Christian Science “on a wholly spiritual foundation” and finally, that we might demonstrate the power of Truth over error, of Love over fear, hatred, envy, and the illusion of so-called death.  A letter was then sent to Mrs. Eddy by special messenger.  In the next issue of The Christian Science Journal appeared Mrs. Eddy’s message to her “dear brethren in New York,” with the letter from First Church of Christ, Scientist, New York City, on the opposite page.  [End of the excerpt.]

     The original invitation was presented in the preceding Sentinel.  I think, as I have no proof here, it was at this time that Mary Baker Eddy decided to wash her hands of the apple pie (forbidden fruit) and leave the material organization to fend for itself.
     The trials (or spiritual building) began after Augusta and her students sent their Leader the Composite Letter.  Mary Baker Eddy’s response to Augusta was dated July 12, 1909:  “I have just finished reading your interesting letter.  I thank you for acknowledging me as your Leader, and I know that every true follower of Christian Science abides by the definite rules which demonstrate the true following of their Leader; therefore, if you are sincere in your protestations and are doing as you say you are, you will be blessed in your obedience.
     “The Scriptures say, ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.’  You are aware that animal magnetism is the opposite of divine Science, and that this opponent is the means whereby the conflict against Truth is engendered and developed.  Beloved! you need to watch and pray that the enemy of good cannot separate you from your Leader and best earthly friend.[4]
     “You have been duly informed by me that, however much I desire to read all that you send to me, I have not the time to do so.  The Christian Science Publishing Society will settle the question whether or not they shall publish your poems.  It is part of their duties to relieve me of so much labor.
     “I thank you for the money you send me which was given you by your students.  I shall devote it to a worthy and charitable purpose.
     “Mr. Adam Dickey is my secretary, through whom all my business is transacted.
     “Give my best wishes and love to your dear students and church.[5]
           “Lovingly your teacher and Leader,
           “Mary Baker Eddy”[6]

     Ten days later Augusta received a second communication.  Its message was:  “Awake and arise from this temptation produced by animal magnetism upon yourself, allowing your students to deify you and me.  Treat yourself for it and get your students to help you rise out of it.  It will be your destruction if you do not do this.  Answer this letter immediately.”[7]
     Now this letter has a different tone to it.  Had Mary Baker Eddy read some, or all, of the Composite Letter?  It is entirely possible that Augusta and her students were being handled by animal magnetism, and Mary sent this letter to awake Augusta from the trap.  However, it is also possible that Mary Baker Eddy did not even send this letter.  Mary Baker Eddy gave her above mentioned secretary a copy of her signature which he published in his book, a biography on Mary Baker Eddy.  Is it possible that he did include her signature so that it could be compared to the signature on the second letter sent to Augusta Stetson?  Did the second letter contain a forged signature of Mary Baker Eddy?  Mr. Dickey, who at one point also served as a Board member, was not completely obedient to Mary Baker Eddy, he severely procrastinated publishing his book, and he admitted this very fact!
     Augusta responded with: “Your dear letter of to-day [July 24, 1909] is before me.  I thank you for your continued watch-care during this perilous passage (through material sense to Soul) from the will of the flesh, or human energy, which embodies itself in physical personality, to the will of God, or divine energy, which dissolves finite personality together with all the phenomena of the carnal mind, and reveals Spirit, God, as the only creator, and man as His image and likeness, the compound idea or divine personality, the reflection of the infinite Person.
     “In your Message to The Mother Church for 1901, page 41, I read:
     “‘Do Christian Scientists believe in personality?  They do, but their personality is defined spiritually, not materially—by Mind, not by matter.  We do not blot out the material race of Adam, but leave all sin to God’s fiat—self-extinction, and to the final manifestation of the real spiritual man and universe.  We believe, according to the Scriptures, that God is infinite Spirit or Person, and man is His image and likeness:  therefore man reflects Spirit, not matter.’
     “I have always tried to teach my students to differentiate between finite and infinite personality, between the physical personality, which is the image of the beast or so-called mortal mind, specifically named animal magnetism, and the divine personality, which is the image of God—the spiritual idea or Christ….”[8]  Her letter continues with only spiritual thoughts and ideas.  Her words and tone make me feel that she was able to tell the difference between deification of mortal personality and worshiping [respect, honor] God’s chosen messenger.
     “The Board of Directors displayed a letter [in one of the periodicals] at this time from Mrs. Eddy:  ‘Act, and act quickly.  Handle these letters according to Science and Health, and The Mother Church Manual’ – and this message provided the justification for their action.  (Augusta later likened this episode and the events that followed, to Jesus’ charge to Judas Iscariot, just prior to the crucifixion:  ‘That thou doest, do quickly.’)  The publication of ‘None Good But One’ brought forth the exchange of letters between Mrs. Eddy and Augusta, the only two of which made public at the time having been Mrs. Eddy’s two responses to the Composite Letter.
     “The following is Mrs. Eddy’s final letter to Augusta, dated August 30, 1909:

“Box G, Brookline, Mass.
“August thirtieth, 1909
“Mrs. Augusta E. Stetson, C.S.D.
7 West Ninety-sixth Street
New York City

My Dear Student:
     “Your kind letter was duly received.  You know that I love you and you know that God has made, and is making His ways and works manifest through Divine Science.  I trust He will direct your path in the footsteps of His flock.  The Holy Bible, Science & Health and The Mother Church Manual are your safe guides, follow them.
     “I have not the time to think of the Students in all their varied duties of life, but I have the faith to leave them in the hands of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth none.

“As ever yours in Christ
“Mary Baker Eddy

     “Augusta wrote five more letters to Mrs. Eddy after this message, but the above were her final instructions from her Leader and Teacher in this ‘perilous passage’ from a material sense of organization into the spiritually organized church built on a ‘wholly spiritual foundation, than which there is no other.’
     “During the month of September, 1909, the twenty-five practitioners, and eight of the nine trustees of First Church, New York (excluding Mrs. Stetson, also a trustee), were called to ‘conferences’ in Boston to testify as to their practice of Christian Science as taught by their teacher, Mrs. Stetson.  The directors present at these conferences were:  Archibald McLellan, Allison V. Stewart, Ira O. Knapp, Stephen A. Chase, and John V. Dittimore.[9]  Also present were:  Clifford P. Smith, First Reader of The Mother Church, and Virgil O. Strickler, First Reader of the New York Church, along with two stenographers to record testimony on both sides in the controversy.  On at least one occasion (the conference with the Trustees on September 24th) Ella Garrison Young, Second Reader of the New York Church, was also present.
     “Nineteen of the twenty-five practitioners stood firm in their loyalty to their teacher’s instruction; and seven of the eight trustees were also unwavering in their allegiance to their teacher.  Mrs. Stetson was not summoned to Boston nor permitted to defend herself at this time.
     “The removal of professional ‘cards,’ or listings in The Christian Science Journal, of eight of the practitioners soon followed.  This in turn was followed by ‘test question,’ ‘admonitions,’ ‘complaints,’ and the eventual removal from Mother Church membership of sixteen of the practitioners.  Mrs. Stetson’s license to teach and practice Christian Science was quickly revoked, and this action cleared the way for her subsequent dismissal from membership in The Mother Church.
     “The justification for these measures was set forth in a document of seven ‘Findings’ and accompanying ‘Orders,’ sent to Mrs. Stetson and dated September 25, 1909.  These ‘Findings and Orders’ were aimed at the teachings and practice of Mrs. Stetson, and included the subjects of personal control, ‘the application of Christian Science to human needs and conditions,’ and mental malpractice.  The conclusion was reached that Mrs. Stetson taught, ‘pretended Christian Science,’[10] and hence was judged unfit to carry on the work of teaching and practicing Christian Science.
     “On September 26, 1909, Mrs. Stetson sent the following message to Mrs. Eddy:

“My precious Leader:
     “‘For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us [me] from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”—and Mary Baker Eddy, my “best earthly friend.’
     “With ever increasing love, and unspeakable gratitude from your precious gift of Christian Science, I am,

“Your child,
“Augusta

     “It is the author’s [Gail M. Weatherbe] deep conviction that the ‘Findings and Orders’ –the judgment of the Board of Directors of The Mother Church, against Augusta E. Stetson, that she taught ‘pretended Christian Science’—were in fact directed against their Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, and against the Teachings of the Holy Comforter, or ‘genuine Christian Science as promulgated by Mary Baker Eddy.’
     “One of Mrs. Stetson’s students, Arnold Blome, says of his ‘trial’ in Boston, when questioned by the board of directors as to his loyalty to his teacher:
     “To my sense it is our dear Leader’s teaching and the teaching of Science and Health which is on trial, for that is what Mrs. Stetson has taught me
     “Having been with Mrs. Stetson in daily work for the Cause of Christian Science a number of years, and attended the practitioners’ meetings of First Church in New York for some ten years, it is my great privilege to know her, not only as a Christian Scientist, teacher and practitioner, but as a friend and loving sister.  In her home life I have found her a loving, practical and economical Christian woman, in her active life as a Christian Scientist, a consistent, loyal, faithful and obedient student of Mrs. Eddy, our revered Leader.  She has often quoted from Science and Health, the words of our beloved Leader:  ‘the demands of God must be met.’  Her standard of Christian Science has been too high for many of her students and a number of them have maligned and persecuted her because of her realization of Truth; and her consistent demonstration thereof has been a rebuke to error.  Her position as a Field worker has been unique and has borne good fruit.  Like our beloved Leader, Mrs. Stetson has many so-called enemies, but she knows she has none.  Her love is universal and divine.  Disgruntled, disloyal, and undisciplined students have turned from what they consider personal control of Mrs. Stetson to their own self-will and human energy as their guide ‘from sense to Soul,’ and have named this ‘blind guide’ Principle. ….”[11]
     Gail M. Weatherbe goes on to defend Augusta E. Stetson with further testimony from pupils, or students, of hers.  (It is also of interest that the painting of Augusta, found in the front of the book, shows her wearing a diamond crown pin.)  There is enough evidence in this book, however, to suggest that the charges were trumped up.  That it was the insecure male Board of Directors and those in the New York Branch (who had problems with the woman who Founded their Branch Church) that made up lies against Augusta Stetson.  Why would they do this?  Simply to get to a higher position within their Church in a dishonest manner.
     It is possible, however, that the poems, or the ‘Composite Letter’ did come off sounding somewhat like deification of Mary Baker Eddy and Augusta Stetson!  And it was most likely it was this type of sentiment that Mary Baker Eddy wanted to nip in the bud or put an end to.  And perhaps she knew that the only way to hush the matter was to have Augusta Stetson and her loyal students go through their retrograde.  They had to go backward (or what seemed to be a backward step to those who were members of the Church) before they could go forward on their spiritual journey.  And this is a perfect time to explain retrograde in regards to the movement of planets.  Let us say that two planets are orbiting the sun.  As you viewed them from earth it would visually appear that the planet closest to the sun, closest to the light, was moving backwards in regard to the planet that is closer to your viewpoint.  This, however, is an illusion.  Both planets are moving in the same direction and it only appears that the planet closest to the sun is moving backwards.  It is an optical illusion.  If we apply this to Augusta Stetson then we must say that she was closer to spiritual enlightenment and closer to the woman who is clothed with the sun than the Board of Directors were.
     One thing has bothered me about the Board’s decision.  That is Ira O. Knapp.  Ira Knapp was loyal to Mary Baker Eddy, he understood her place in Bible prophecy.  Was he really a willing party going along with the other Board members?  Was he the one who was being handled by animal magnetism?  Or did Mary Baker Eddy explain to him a special reason for having Augusta Stetson’s name dropped from the membership rolls that the other members were unaware of?  After reading words written by Knapp’s son I think we can say that Mary Baker Eddy did not speak to Knapp about it.  It sounds as if he felt that Augusta was not a good follower of Christian Science.  In Bliss Knapp’s book he says that after his mother’s death Augusta Stetson tried to grab up his mother’s association students.  One of these students being Reverend Irving C. Tomlinson.  Tomlinson later wrote his book Twelve Years With Mary Baker Eddy.  In his book there was no mention of Augusta Stetson.  It was not until the “Amplified” 1996 edition that a notes section was added to his book (notes supposedly and probably were written by Tomlinson).  Upon finding this information out I immediately asked myself why Boston felt it was necessary to add a notes section?  I have not had a chance to purchase a copy of this 1996 book to see what else is in the note section.  I do, however, have the original edition.  I do know someone who does have a copy of the “Amplified” edition and it is a fact that the name of Augusta Stetson is not mentioned anywhere in the book!  There are two accounts, however, that people may associate to Augusta Stetson if they have a mind to.  These two accounts are found on pages 270-271 and 267-277.  One account does seem to relate to the 1909 Stetson trial, while the other account has to do with a letter written by Mary Baker Eddy to Tomlinson about some woman trying to get him to be one of his students after his teacher’s passing (this teacher was Ira Knapp’s wife) in March of 1898.  This account is similar to the one found in The Destiny of The Mother Church.  However, what if the letter written by Mary Baker Eddy was not about Augusta Stetson at all (as there is no mention of her name in the letter)?  What if this letter was about Josephine Woodbury instead?  It is a very strong possibility.  Perhaps Bliss Knapp misunderstood the letter, since no name was mentioned in it, and just assumed that Mary Baker Eddy was speaking about Augusta Stetson?
     Augusta Stetson went along with her Leader and not only left The First Church in peace, but also resigned from her own Branch Church.  “On November 24, 1909, the Board of Trustees of First Church of Christ, Scientist, New York City, reluctantly accepted ‘with unfeigned regret, and only at her urgent request,’ Mrs. Stetson’s resignation from both their board and from the church.
     “The seven trustees of the New York Church who stood with Mrs. Stetson:  Edwin F. Hatfield, John Franklin Crowell, Isabelle C. Dam, Joseph B. Whitney, Adolph Rusch, William H. Taylor, and John D. Higgins, were ‘admonished’ by the Boston board’s representative, the First Reader of The Mother Church, Judge Clifford P. Smith, on December 23, 1909.
     “The sixteen practitioners who also stood with their teacher, Mrs. Stetson, were dropped from the membership roll of The Mother Church on July 8, 1910.”[12]  Are not the signs and symbols of those names that were dropped from the membership roll important?  Who can deny them (those familiar with the system of Science)?  The seven synonymous terms for God, as well as, the number sixteen for the divine calculus, the true director of Principle!
     “Thus the way was being cleared for the beginnings of the emergence of the spiritually organized church….”[13]
     I recognize this spiritually organized church to be the Church Universal and Triumphant.  Ah, but I hear you Christian Scientists yelling at me, “The Church Manual says that The First Church is the Church Universal and Triumphant!”  Um, to be exact, page 19 of the Church Manual says:  “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., is designed to be built on the Rock, Christ; even the understanding and demonstration of divine Truth, Life, and Love, healing and saving the world from sin and death; thus to reflect in some degree the Church Universal and Triumphant.” (infuses added)  Mary Baker Eddy never said that it was the Church Universal and Triumphant, but only reflected in some degree (perhaps the Second Degree?).  Why would this be?  I believe it is because no materially organized Church could ever be the Church Universal and Triumphant!
     One interesting question that Christian Scientists should ask themselves on this whole issue is this:  If Augusta E. Stetson was innocent of the charges against her what did the Board of Directors have to gain by having her gone from the church?
     The answer is this:  a triumvirate of men (one of which was said to be Board member Archibald McLellan) had been planning to commit Mary Baker Eddy to a home and kidnap (what they called) her Movement.  I assume that the illegal 89th edition of the Church Manual was all part of their scheme.  They saw with their physical eyes that Mary Baker Eddy was getting old, and they knew that she would die (this is mental assassination by the way).  But they were worried about one student who had a tremendous following.  You guessed it, that woman was Augusta Stetson.  They literally saw her as a threat to their own power of ruler ship and government over The First Church and Branches after their Leader’s death.  What could be better than to get rid of this thorn in their side and at the same time claim that Mary Baker Eddy wished it to be so?
     My point in all of this is that if Mary Baker Eddy did give the go ahead for the Board to drop Augusta’s name from the membership roll it was for a spiritual reason, one that these men of The First Degree did not understand at all!  Those who were not yet ready to leave material organized church and did not really investigate what happened to Augusta Stetson would just believe that Augusta was guilty and got her just desserts.
     And honest Christian Scientists must ask themselves why the Boston Hierarchy is still waging its smear campaign against Augusta Stetson today (as proved by Gillian Gills biography and the 1996 note addition to Tomlinson’s biography)?  Even the book Mary Baker Eddy Christian Healer, a CSPS publication, tells lies about Stetson and fails to mention that the First Church of New York was her church!  (By the way, it is no longer a Branch Church, has not been for some time, and the building is going to be turned into apartments.  I cry!)  The answer is simply this, they are still afraid that they will lose their power and hold over the Field.

Mary Baker Eddy’s Trademark in front of her Textbook. Notice the cross pin.

     1trademark:  1:  a device (as a word) pointing distinctly to the origin or ownership of merchandise to which it is applied and legally reserved to the exclusive use of the owner as maker or seller  2:  a distinguishing characteristic or feature firmly associated with a person or thing  2trademark:  to secure trademark rights for:  register the trademark of”[14]
     Two gifts that Mary Baker Eddy received from Augusta were diamond pins.  One pin was of a seven star crown (a symbol for the seven synonymous terms for God, however, you can imagine that five more stars could wrap around the back of the crown (being hidden) and this would be symbolic of the woman God-crowned of Revelation 12).  The other pin was a diamond cross.  This cross can be seen in the above drawing of Mary Baker Eddy from the front of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (before the Board of Directors took over control of the Branches after December 3, 1910).  This illustration of Mary Baker Eddy was her trademark, but the Board of Directors got rid of her trademark (under the disguise that having it in the book would lead to deification of a person, hum, the same reason they had for getting Augusta out of the way) and placed their “cross and crown” trademark symbol on the front of the book.  They also claimed copyright on the Textbook.

Mary Baker Eddy with her crown pin.

     The Board’s trademark symbol was the Christian Science Seal, with its “cross and [imperialistic] crown.”  It is interesting to read what the “Glossary” defines as seal!  Mary Baker Eddy tells us that seal means the “signet [sign or symbol] of error revealed by Truth [Truth exposes error].”  I am revealing the Truth to you right now, that they used the Christian Science Seal in an erroneous way, for malicious purposes.  And they have gotten away with it for over 100 years.  The male Board of Directors also placed their trademark seal on the illegal 89th edition of the Church Manual.
     Now, let me discus the picture found in the Textbook.  Mary Baker Eddy is the one who placed her portrait in her book.  She was not worried that her readers, followers, and students would wind up deifying her persona because of it!  Nobody knows what Jesus really looked like today; however, we have tons of pictures of Jesus around.  Mary Baker Eddy even had pictures of these conjectured Jesus portraits in her home.  She did not deify his persona, but she had pictures of the man (which may not be what he even really looked like, just some artist’s rendition, however, if anyone really knew what Jesus looked like I am sure Mary Baker Eddy did).  Yet, this almighty Board of Directors is constantly afraid that we Christian Scientists are going to deify Mary Baker Eddy!  Why?  Christian Scientists do not deify Jesus Christ, so why would we deify Mary Baker Eddy?  The Board of Directors uses this trump of deification whenever they want to do something dirty.  Why do you think many Christian Scientists do not accept Mary Baker Eddy as the woman God-crowned?  The Board yells, “To accept Mrs. Eddy’s place in Bible prophecy is deification!  And you cannot do that!”  And the obedient blind sheep of Church Goers will not and do not question this line of philosophical intellectualism!

Augusta E. Stetson with the crown pin.

     Going back to the two pins, what was behind the whole idea of a cross and crown anyway?  Well, anyone who knows anything about The First Church of Christ Scientist can tell you that it consists of two buildings.  The first little (EDDY-fice) Edifice was known as the Cross and the later built Extension was known as the Crown.  But when it came to Mary Baker Eddy all things were spiritually translated back to God, she understood their symbols and what lay behind these symbols.  And this is why, even though Augusta Stetson had given both pins to her as gifts, in her will Mary Baker Eddy left the two pins to two different female students.  Both women were the leaders of Branch Churches in the city New York (the original estate; the original horse bay).
     The cross was willed to a woman who still retained her New York Branch Church; she was still in charge of its material organization, while the crown pin went to Augusta Stetson who had been given the boot![15]  She no longer was part of any material organized church, and this is why Augusta could be given the crown pin.[16]  I think it was Mary Baker Eddy’s way of telling the Field that the true path was not to be found via the material organized church (the cross), but that the true spiritual path for all loyal Christian Scientists was to be found by coming out of material organized church (the black cross) and becoming an Independent Christian Scientist!  This was when you would become her successor and wear the God-crown.  Successor meaning that your are successful in the demonstration of Christian Science.

Mary Baker Eddy’s crowned successor?

     Is the true successor of Christian Science, like some Christian Scientists today think, the Bible and the Christian Science Textbook?  No.  Mary Baker Eddy spoke about her successor in 1901:  “I did say that a man would be my future successor.  By this I did not mean any man to-day on earth [this does not mean that this man is not present in the future].
     “Science and Health makes it plain to all Christian Scientists that the manhood and womanhood of God have already been revealed in a degree through Christ Jesus and Christian Science [she could not say Mary Baker Eddy in 1901], His two witnesses.  What remains to lead on the centuries and reveal [“to make known through divine inspiration; to make something (secret or hidden) publicly or generally known; reveal, discover, disclose, divulge, tell” (from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary)] my successor, is man in the image and likeness of the Father-Mother God, man the generic term for mankind.” (Miscellany346:27-347:5)
     She also writes in Miscellaneous Writings 165:7:  “The last appearing of Truth will be a wholly spiritual idea of God and of man, without the fetters of the flesh, or corporeality.  This infinite idea of infinity will be, is, as eternal as its divine Principle.  The daystar of this appearing is the light of Christian Science [the city of our God symbolized by +]–the Science which rends the veil of the flesh from top to bottom.  The light of this revelation leaves nothing that is material; neither darkness, doubt, disease, nor death.  The material corporeality disappears; and individual spirituality, perfect and eternal, appears–never to disappear.”

     There are two illustrations, from Christ and Christmas, that displays a cross and crown.  They are both titled “The Way.”  The first “The Way” has the crowned with flowers cross, while the second “The Way” has the black material cross and bright crown in the sky along with (in the middle of the two) the same crowned cross from the first “The Way”.  I feel that the first illustration depicts what the Church was like during before December 3, 1910 while the second “The Way” illustrates, with the black cross, what today’s Church has become (material minded) since December 3, 1910.  It is a fact, however, that the first illustration was drawn before the edifice was built, when there was still no material organization, while the second drawing was made after the Edifice had been completed (now there was material organization).

The first “The Way” with its crowned cross.

The second “The Way” shows the material church organization with the black cross.

     I understood this whole Augusta issue (on August 31, 2009) after I woke up from the following dream insight.  I saw a person walking backwards while hearing a voice say, “Retrograde means that you must go backwards because the progression that you have made has been achieved in a dishonest manner.”  This might happen to you in a board game, for example, you illegally moved your board piece ahead while others were not looking, so when they caught on to what you were doing they would make you go back to your original position.  Or you might draw a card with a go backward two steps type of punishment.
     After the dream I looked up what retrograde meant in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.  It had this to say about the word:  “1  a  (1) of a celestial body:  having a direction contrary to that of the general motion of similar bodies[17] (2):  being or relating to the rotation of a satellite in a direction opposite to that of the body orbited  b:  moving, directed, or treading backward  c:  contrary to the normal order:  inverse  2:  tending toward or resulting in a worse state  3 archaic:  contradictory, opposed,  4:  characterized by retrogression  5:  affecting a period immediately prior to a precipitating cause…retro intro; backward’ + to go – more at grade] archaic:  to turn back : reverse    1  a:  to go back: retreat   b:  to go back over (as a narrative or an argument) :  recapitulate[18]
     The word retrogression means “c:  passing from a higher to a lower organization.”  (This definition certainly fits in with what has happened to The First Church!)
     In a way, some of these definitions seem to fit with Augusta Stetson’s story.  Many Christian Scientist saw her as being punished and that she was passing from a higher to a lower organization when she was given the boot, but this was not the case at all.  If anything, the reason for her leaving the church was to raise her up to a higher grade, to the Third Degree of spiritual understanding.  I see it this way, that perhaps Augusta had gotten to the highest grade (The Second Degree?) she could reach while remaining in a material organized system called Church, so she could go no further.  It, the organization, was binding her up, restricting her spiritual growth, and this is why Mary Baker Eddy allowed her to be rolled out of the membership and wanted her to loose her Branch Church, to retrograde, or take a step backward (which was only an illusion)!
     If Augusta Stetson had really crossed the line, and gotten to the place she was in, in a dishonest manner, then she must be taught a lesson.  If so, this lesson would be her retrograde, she would be forced to go backward (leave the church) so that she could be of a celestial (heavenly or spiritual) body.  This would give her a direction (via the divine calculus) contrary to that of the general (Christ congregation) motion of similar bodies that followed the direction of personal sense (a Board of Directors, yes these Boards like deification so long as it is they who are being deified).  It is also of importance that the Holy City, or the Window of the Open Book (a Rose Window in the Cross Edifice) runs in a counterclockwise order, contrary to time.  Yet outside the Church the window moves in a clockwise order.
     Yet (as I mention in footnote 17) something else is of importance in regard to “retrograde.”  This importance is the Morning Star that Jesus promised to us in Revelation.  The Morning Star is Venus.  Venus is the only planet, in our solar system, that moves clockwise, and this orbital spin is called “retrograde”.  All the other celestial bodies in our solar system move counterclockwise, which is called “prograde”.  Venus is the woman God-crowned.  So did Mary Baker Eddy consider Augusta Stetson as a woman God-crowned type because she gave her the crown pin?
     Mary Baker Eddy gave Augusta Stetson the gift of freedom from Egyptian bondage.  And sixteen (a divine calculus) of Augusta’s students were given this same freedom in 1910.  This was the woman God-crowned church, the church that is the “structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle [not personal sense or a Board of Directors].”[19]
     Augusta had no material church left to turn to (or turn prograde with) or associate with, as her Association was also let go of at around the same time of her leaving material church organization.  All that Augusta had left for spiritual inspiration at that time was the Bible, the Textbook, and the other writings of Mary Baker Eddy.  Well, that is not exactly correct, she did have her loyal students and her New York Christian Science Institute (that was chartered in 1878) outside the church.  And later on she would have a radio station W.H.A.P.
     The word “institution” means:  “1:  an act of instituting  establishment  2 archaic :  something that serves to instruct; also :  instruction, training   3  a : a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture[20]  b :  an established organization or corporation” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary).
     It is the Christian Science Textbook that is the spiritual Church, “The Church is that institution [a little open book which serves to instruct], which affords proof [demonstration] of its utility [use] and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick [which are two commands found upon the Christian Science Seal].”[21]

The original Seal, notice the crown resembles the crown pin and the crown in “The Way”

     Originally, the Seal had a coronet and not an imperial crown.

Modern Day Seal

     Notice it is a coronet on the book in this window.

Pyramid books

     Now you may think that I am conjecturing all of this in order to try and explain a bad apple to you.  Not so, I think that this is really how it all went down.  Nor do I think I am being handled by animal magnetism because of my explanations, but some may think I am.  I will tell you why Augusta Stetson was not evil, or an agent of the red dragon (animal magnetism), even though it is possible that she was temporarily fooled by error and thanks to her obedience to Mary Baker Eddy she was saved from mesmerism’s hold upon her.  To explain it I must refer to two people that we really do know were students and followers of animal magnetism; then we can see why Augusta Stetson was not one of these false practitioners.
     Richard Kennedy, Mary Baker Glover’s official second student, was a young lad when they met.  He was from the Roman Catholic faith, and I think that Mary Glover had little experience in matters of the Roman Church.  I say this because animal magnetism is practiced within the Roman Catholic Church and I think that this may have been why Richard Kennedy took the wrong path, but this is just a theory of mine and may not be so.  Mary Glover took this young man as a student and in the beginning he was very successful because Mary Baker Glover supported him with her own work.
     Mary Patterson (as she was called during this time period) had once been a patient of Doctor Phineus Parkhurst Quimby, a practitioner of mesmeric healing.  Truth be told, Quimby never really did heal his patients, as they had constant relapses.  Mary was searching for the Christ healing method and she thought that Quimby had discovered it and practiced it.  But she later came to realize that he had never understood Christ healing at all, and what he did was a material mental remedy, or treatment for healing.  Quimby was a kind man, and his intentions were good (which is most important), however, his own system of healing resulted in his own death.  I think that Mary actually cared for Quimby and thought that perhaps his methods were still good because they took place in the mental realm.  It would be Richard Kennedy, however, who would show her the evils of mesmerism and hypnotism and why they could have nothing to do with (or have any connection with) Christian Science healing, for the two are opposites.
     Richard practiced Quimby’s hands on method of manipulation, and this confused other early students.  Mary Glover tried to get Richard to stop its use, but he felt it was the only way he could really heal people.  Slowly he began to use mesmerism for evil purposes and he started working against his teacher.  He would trick her new students with mesmerism and steal them away.  They would then turn against her.  I do not know how many years he did this, but it was quite some time.
     Another disloyal follower took Mary Baker Eddy to court around 1901.  Her name was Josephine Woodbury.  Josephine Woodbury had an illegitimate affair and conceived a child from the other man.  She claimed, because at the time of conception her husband was away, that she had an immaculate conception!  She named her son the Prince of Peace.  She then believed that one of Mary’s Church addresses was speaking about her as the Babylonian harlot (I think she suffered from a guilty conscience).  Well, she was not going to take this lying down, so she sued.  Evil’s real plan was to make Mary Baker Eddy admit that she taught and accepted her place in Bible prophecy as the woman God-crowned!  Well, the world was not ready to accept this truth about Mary Baker Eddy yet, and Mary Baker Eddy knew it.  So, her people, who took the stand, were coached in how to answer the questions, and they did not really lie, as Mary Baker Eddy did not really teach this fact in her classes, however, she had never denied it if a student (like Ira Knapp) revealed it in her class.  Woodbury also tried to cause trouble for Augusta Stetson.
     It is in part because of this court trial, and comments to the press by Edward Kimball (who disobeyed Mary Baker Eddy on certain matters), that the whole Field today is in controversy upon the topic of Mary Baker Eddy’s place in Bible prophecy!  Loyalists accept their Leader’s place as the woman God-crowned, while most of today’s Church Members side with a Board of Directors and deny her place (even though certain Boards during the last 100 years have accepted her place, thus we had the Six Points pamphlet Mrs. Eddy’s Place in the Reading Rooms for many years.)

End results of the three students
     Never the less, what happened to Richard Kennedy was not good.  He had some mental sexual transmitted disease that made him desire to have sex all the time.  It may have been the disease that drove him crazy, but I feel that it was his practice of animal magnetism that drove him crazy, because we really live in a thought world instead of a material world (even though the five physical senses deny this truth).  Kennedy was sent to a mental institute where he eventually died.
     Josephine Woodbury had been asked to come to Pleasant View to speak with Mary Baker Eddy.  She refused to see her, she did not want to be healed of her wickedness, or be blessed.  She went to England where she committed suicide.
     What happened to Augusta Stetson?  Mary Baker Eddy asked Augusta to come to her home and ride with her in her carriage.  Augusta did so.  During this ride she was virtually warned by Mary Baker Eddy as to what was about to transpire with the trial she was about to go under.  After resigning from the church she continued on the spiritual path.  She remained loyal to Mary Baker Eddy and her teachings.  Two points she stressed – one, there is no death because Life is eternal; hence, Mary Baker Eddy NEVER DIED – two, animal magnetism must be handled, not swept under the carpet and ignored.  In 1878 Augusta chartered the New York Christian Science Institute, and she continued to run it after 1909.  She had a very patriotic radio program that helped the world out during World War I.  During her program she sent out Christian Science messages to the world, which is what the world needed so much during a time of war.  She lived in her home until 1928 and she never admitted that Mary Baker Eddy died.  And this is exactly what loyal Christian Scientists do.  Why?  Because Mary Baker Eddy said, “death is an illusion.”  If death is an illusion then Mary Baker Eddy never died!  And it was the Board of Directors who declared her to be dead so that they could control the Branch churches with the illegal (not authorized by Mary Baker Eddy) 89th edition of the Church Manual.[22]
     I mention the difference in the outcome of Augusta’s life because nobody else has evidently thought to compare the outcome of Augusta Stetson’s life to the outcome of the malicious student’s lives; those who really were disloyal to the Cause of Christian Science!  I take it as a sign that because of the way she lived out the remainder of her life in the human realm that she was loyal, because if she had really been disloyal to Mary Baker Eddy and hated her and Christian Science then she would have wound up like one Richard Kennedy or one Josephine Woodbury (one not in the right mind – or – one not in accord with divine Mind).

     Returning to the definitions of retrogression I would like to comment on “inverse”.  In the Tarot cards, when a card is upside down, it is called the inversion of that card.  So the meaning is different.  On July 5, 2014 I was given the message “the inverted V” and the feeling it had to do with THE HANGMAN card and the symbol for Venus found in THE EMPRESS card.  I mention this because I feel that it relates to this post.

Inverted V     Notice that the man’s arms form an inverted V shape.  What could this possible even mean?  Well, if we look at the Venus symbol as it normally is viewed then we have the crown on top of the cross, as seen in the second illustration of “The Way.”  I have felt that the black cross is material organization planted in the same ground next to the tomb of death, while the second cross is floating above the ground.  This crowned cross, to me, symbolizes the church that is wholly build upon spiritual understanding, this is the true church belonging to the woman.
     I will end this publication with a quote from the Doctor, “Stetsons are cool!”


[1] I have a book, that David Keyston put together, chalk full of healings performed by Mary Baker Eddy, but Gillian Gill does not mention any of these well documented healings.  All Christian Scientists must ask – why?

[2] Many students who were asked by Mary Baker Eddy to donate money had to make their demonstrations to attain the money needed; Augusta was able to demonstrate.

[3] Their efforts were probably a lost cause, as I feel that Mary Baker Eddy resurrected in spite of their careful watch, perhaps before the coffin was even taken to the cemetery.  Bliss Knapp, a pallbearer on the day the coffin was carried to the tomb, commented that the coffin was very light, like there was nobody inside and during the ceremony there was a mysterious woman in black with a veil, nobody knew how she got into the cemetery on this cold freezing day (according to the newspaper reports), as the gates were locked (only men were allowed in).

[4] I see this as a warning to Augusta that steps were being taken by certain men to attack Augusta and she needed to be watchful of the coming events.

[5] This does not sound like Mary Baker Eddy is upset with anyone at all.

[6] Augusta E. Stetson Apostle to the World; by Gail M. Weatherbe; p. 55-56

[7] Ibid; p. 56

[8] Ibid; p. 59

[9] Board Member Ira O. Knapp was mentally assassinated (to material belief) before Mary Baker Eddy’s “so-called death” took place.

[10] Does anyone even know what “pretended Christian Science” is or means?  And if you are able to heal people of disease and sin, how is that in any way a pretense?

[11] Augusta E. Stetson Apostle to the World; by Gail M. Weatherbe; pages 74-77

[12] Ibid; pages 93-94

[13] Ibid; page 94

[14] Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary

[15] Mary Baker Eddy giving you her boots is a symbol of successorship.

[16] This painting of Augusta Stetson is also often printed in Doris Grekel’s pamphlets for The Independent Christian Scientist.

[17] This is very similar to what the word “eddy” means!  Also, it is of interest that Venus, the Morning Star, revolves in a clockwise manner.  Venus is a retrograde planet!

[18] The Textbook’s fourteenth chapter is titled “Recapitulation.”

[19] Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy; p. 583:12

[20] The word “culture” is rooted to “cult” which means “wheel.”

[21] Science and Health; 583:14

[22] Mary Baker Eddy may have approved certain things in the upcoming 89th edition of the Church Manual, but she never approved the Board’s reign over the Branch Churches.  And most certainly, the 89th edition was never advertised in the Sentinel or The Journal.

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